South African PET plastic bottles recycling rate 45% in 2012

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Monday, April 8, 2013

The recycling rate of post-consumer PET plastic bottles (Polyethylene Terephthalate) has risen from 42% in 2011 to 45% in 2012, according to the PET Plastic Recycling Company (PETCO). The CEO of PETCO, Cheri Scholtz says “By recycling 45% of post –consumer beverage PET, we achieved a full 1% more than what was targeted for 2012.” Recycling volumes increased by 7,718 tonnes from 42,562 tonnes in 2011 to 50,280 tonnes in 2012. According to PETCO, over 1.9 billion PET bottles were recycled in 2012, equivalent to 5.3 million bottles every day.

Since 2005 there has been a steady increase in the amount of beverage PET plastic that has been consumed in South Africa. From 2011 to 2012, the total amount of beverage PET consumed increased from approximately 101,550 tonnes to 111,733 tonnes.

The graph below shows the increase in recycling rates of beverage PET plastic that have been achieved since the inception of PETCO and the increase in the amount of beverage PET consumed over the same period.

Although PETCO is proud of their achievements Scholtz notes that there is still room for improvement, “There is still much work to do to capture the remaining percentage of bottles that were not collected and with the post –consumer PET recycling targets set to rise to 58% in 2017, with a growing market size, increasing the volume of bottles collected for recycling is thought to be the best method of achieving this” says Scholtz.

PETCO has set a recycling target of 50% for 2015 and Scholtz comments that  “A step change is required to meet our targets in years to come.”

“As the Bottle 2 Fibre market is reaching saturation additional investment is required in Bottle 2 Bottle capacity - which involves the specialised recycling of clean bottles to produce recycled PET pellets that can be used in the manufacture of new bottles. We would need to up collection rates to get feedstock for this new end use and that’s where the challenge lies for PETCO, this would involve seeking opportunities to improve collaboration across the supply chain as well as with municipalities, collectors, industry and consumers” adds Scholtz.

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Amanda Botes